Chicago Mayor Lightfoot pitches $500 monthly payments to poor families

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pitched a pilot program Monday giving $500 monthly payments to 5,000 low-income households, part of the city’s proposed $16.7 billion spending plan that relies on an infusion of federal relief funds to close budget gaps for several years.

Lightfoot, a first-term Democrat, characterized the proposed $31.5 million cash assistance program as a way to help "hard-hit, low income households in need of additional economic stability." The payments would last a year.

The idea has been discussed before in Chicago, including earlier this year by city aldermen. Similar pilot efforts, called universal basic income, have been tested elsewhere including in California and New York.


During her budget address, Lightfoot said city services won’t be reduced and there won’t be any layoffs.

The city is slated to receive nearly $1.9 billion federal relief funds, which Lightfoot wants to use to plug budget holes in the coming years as Chicago sees increasing pension costs.

The proposed spending plan and federal relief funds also include more money for police, boosting affordable housing, efforts to clean vacant lots and planting 75,000 trees.